Chiang Rai is a province located at the top of Thailand near the border between Myanmar and Thailand. The province is particularly unique and different from the rest of Thailand. If you want to really experience something that is truly unique to other places, Chiang Rai is definitely the place designed just for you.
General Information of Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai contains a small population of around 200,000 people in its metro area which is excluding the tribespeople such as the Karen or Kariang. As the province is located on the border next to Myanmar, you can see many goods from Myanmar here as well. You can even cross the border to Myanmar to shop for various goods along the border.
Chiang Rai is mostly influenced by Lanna culture in various aspects such as arts and traditions. Foods, language, and structures that you will see in Chiang Rai are influenced by Lanna in some ways and they are mixed together to create this unique city in the north of Thailand. Chiang Rai also consists of many mountains that you can go hiking. There are magnificent mists up there when the weather is cold, and they are highly recommended.
How to travel to Chiang Rai
You can travel to Chiang Rai with ease as there are various ways you can choose to travel. You can choose to travel by plane which is the fastest and easiest way to go. It takes around an hour to get here and there are many airlines that offers a direct flight from Bangkok with low cost. A bus is also a good choice of travelling, but if you want to enjoy a slow life, you can choose to take a train which takes literally forever to get here. As the distance from Bangkok to Chiang Rai is 820 kilometers, it would be quite a long drive and you are advised to take some rest a few times along the way before you reach here. If you have arrived here safely, get ready for some unique experiences!
Things to do in Chiang Rai
The famous attractions in Chiang Rai brought many tourists here from all around the world, including Thai people. You need to be careful when you are travelling here as you might get lost in the crowd. If you are visiting Thailand, you might not be familiar with cold weather in Thailand, but it is recommended to be prepared for it.
Phu Chi Fa or Phu Chee Fah.
The first place that you should go, and visit is Phu Chi Fa or Phu Chee Fah.
It means a mountain that points to the sky. The reason behind the naming is that the mountain points to the sky at 45 degrees. There is a large sightseeing spot on the top of the mountain which you can see the beautiful sunrise in the morning. It is like a signal for a terrific morning and a great day. Next attraction is pretty close to Phu Chee Fah and a little bit higher. It is called Doi Pha Tang or Pha Tang Mountain which has a height of 1,635 meters above sea level. The scenery here is breath-taking as you can see unique features of the mountain very clearly like a work of art. You can also enjoy the sea of mists and the sunrise in the morning.
Phu Chi Dao
If you are not enough with mountains yet, Phu Chi Dao is another mountain you could go to with a height of 1,800 meters above sea level which is much higher than Phu Chee Fah.
As usual, you can see the mists and beautiful sunrise to start your day here, but with a 360 degrees view. However, if you happen to come here on January, you will be able to see Wild Himalayan Cherry all over the mountain areas. There are various mountains for you to do some adventuring and sightseeing, especially the sunset, sunrise, mists, and other natural features. If you want to see the stars at night, there are two sightseeing spots that you can see the stars clearly.
Next place is another mountain called Doi Tung.
There are many activities you can experience at this one place like the Doi Tung Royal Villa or Mae Fa Luang Garden. It is the place where you can see hundreds of winter flowers. If you want to be a bit closer to nature, you can go to the Tree Top Walk in which you can take a stroll and crosses over a giant tree.
Wat Phra That Doi Tung
If you want to see a temple that Thailand is famous for, I highly recommend that you go to Wat Phra That Doi Tung to see the holy pagodas on top of the mountain with more than 2,000 meters of height above sea level.
You can also buy souvenirs from the brand named Doi Tung in which they are the products from agriculture by the people living here.
Apart from the famous attractions, there are some unique places you can explore further. Influences from Lanna culture affected Chiang Rai’s structures and arts massively. You can see some examples from the temples here.
Wat Rong Khun
Wat Rong Khun is built with white stucco that can truly reflects light. Its art style is a must to see at least once in your lifetime! This temple was built by a Thai National Artist named Chalermchai Kositpipat who is very famous in Thailand, recognized as one of the ten most beautiful temple in terms of its beauty and uniqueness. It is truly the perfect combination of Lanna and Thai culture which includes the details on its exterior and each detail has its own story to tell as well.
Baan Dam Museum or Black House Museum
Next is Baan Dam Museum or Black House Museum which has more than 36 structures painted in black.
All structures are built entirely with teakwood and decorated with horns and animal bones. The woods undergone highly skilled craftsmanship to produce the details on the wood that is truly unique from the world. Each of the structure also has its own uniqueness regarding its beauty. This place was built by another Thai National Artist named Tawan Dachanee.
Wat Rong Suea Ten or the Blue Temple
Wat Rong Suea Ten or the Blue Temple is another temple that is has very unique characteristic. The building is a color combination between blue and gold which beautifully reflects the temple really well. This temple was built by Salanok who a local artist in Chiang Rai in which is the structures are modified to become its own original. Also, the structure really brought the best characteristic of Wat Rong Khun and Baan Dam into something remarkable.
Boon Rawd Farm
The last place is Boon Rawd Farm where there are many activities and attractions such as big flower gardens, taking pictures, a zoo, and animal feeding.
This place actually has everything you need for an agricultural tourism such as the 600 rai of tea farms and a bike lane where you can enjoy riding with your family. If you come here on February, there is a balloon festival you can enjoy as well.
Living in Chiang Rai
The motto for Chiang Rai is “The Northernmost of Siam, The Frontier of Three Lands, The Home to the Culture of Lanna, and Doi Tung Temple”. To get around the town, you can rent a car or motorbikes to move around. You can also use the local tuktuks and minibus if you want to. There is a tricycle tour of the city as well. For accommodation, if you choose to stay in the city, the price is around 1,000 baht per night, but if you are staying near famous attractions, the price will be more expensive. Alternatively, you can rent a tent for around 200 to 300 baht per night to stay close with the nature. Wishing you the best in your travel!
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